How to repair a ripped "Prom" or formal dress

Written by jayne thompson Google
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How to repair a ripped "Prom" or formal dress
Repair a rip before prom. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The term "Prom" is becoming more common place in the UK and replacing the term "formal," thanks in part (or no thanks) to MTV. It's every girl's worst nightmare - that amazing dress she's spent an age choosing gets ripped just before the big event, with no time left to have it professionally repaired. If that happens to you, don't worry. There are a few things you can do to fix the damage, to keep you looking fabulous on your big night. You don't even have to be handy with a sewing needle.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Sewing needle
  • Colour-matched thread
  • Patching fabric
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Fabric bonding tape

Show MoreHide


    Sewing Repairs

  1. 1

    Carefully inspect the damage. Before you decide on a plan of action, you need to figure out where the rip is, how big it is and the type of material affected. Control your expectations. Rips in concealed parts of your dress, such as the lining or along a seam or hem, are going to be much easier to fix, because no-one will see them. If the rip is on the outside of your dress, you may have to write it off for that particular event, until you are able to have it professionally repaired.

  2. 2

    Isolate the tear. Gently turn your dress inside-out and lay it down on a flat surface. Carefully remove any loose threads or frayed edges with scissors. If your lining is ripped, cut around the hole or tear with small scissors to form a neat square and iron flat. This makes it easier to patch.

  3. 3

    Repair damage to the seams by pinning the seam back together, taking care not to pucker the fabric. Thread a needle with colour-matched thread and place a knot in the end. Sewing along the old seam line. Use a backstitch with the smallest stitches you can manage, making sure that your needles travels through both layers of fabric.

  4. 4

    Patch tears to the lining of your dress by selecting a material which is close in weight and thickness. Measure the tear and cut a square about 1.5cm (about half an inch) larger all round than the area you are repairing. Pin the patch over the tear and tack into place. Remove the pins, then sew the patch into place with a catch stitch. If you use a machine, Sewing recommends a mending stitch or triple zig-zag to secure the patch. Remove your tacking stitches and iron the area flat.

    Bonding Tape Repair

  1. 1

    Turn your dress inside out and lay it flat. Bonding tape is best used on dropped or ripped hems. Lift the dropped section and pin it into place. If your dress is ripped along the hem line, let down the entire hem and re-fix it in a higher position, so that the rip is covered. Double check that your pinned section raises the hem to the same height as the rest of your dress with a tape measure.

  2. 2

    Heat your iron. Follow manufacturer's instructions for the required heat setting, and whether or not to use steam. Iron your hem to form a sharp fold. You might find it easier to iron the whole hem, and not just the damaged part. Remove the pins.

  3. 3

    Sandwich your tape between the fold. Cover the area with greaseproof paper or a tea towel, according to manufacturer's instructions, and press along the taped section until the hem is secured. Typically this takes three to five seconds. Leave to cool before wearing.

Tips and warnings

  • Be realistic. If time is short, if you are not a great seamstress, or if the material is too fragile to repair, beg, borrow or buy an alternative dress. You don't want to make the problem worse, so that a professional can't even repair it.

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